By: Lindsay Watts, Melanie Martinez
UPPER MARLBORO, Md. – Less than two weeks before the first day of school, a Prince George’s County elementary school will be shut down due to mold.
The plan to close District Heights for the entire school year was made public at a school board meeting Thursday night as the building will undergo renovations.
In the meantime, students will be sent to nearby Forestville High School, which has been vacant since it closed two years ago.
Last year, parents and staff at District Heights Elementary School claimed that the building was unsafe and mold was causing students and staff to get sick.
Despite some disturbing images provided to FOX 5 from inside the school that appeared to show mold on ceiling tiles along with water damage, Prince George’s County Public Schools maintained last year that there was no dangerous mold and the school was safe based on air quality tests that were conducted.
Interim Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Monica Goldson said after all the rain recently, mold was discovered on furniture inside the school and she received the results from an internal evaluation last week.
However, Dr. Goldson said she believes the school was safe for students to attend last year.
“When I looked at the report and compared the air quality in this year’s report that I requested and last year’s, the air quality was fine,” Goldson said. “It wasn’t that it was any worse than before.”
“I’m angry, I’m frustrated, I’m mad, but then I’m happy too because those babies are now removed from that building,” said Phyllis Wright, a mother who pulled her children from the school. “That building needs to be torn down.
“While it may be two weeks before school starts and it’s probably going to be very disruptive, I would recommend that people at least take heart in the fact that the school is being closed and action is being taken,” said parent Angela Washington.
Dr. Goldson said the school will be getting a new $2.5 million air conditioning system and the hope is that will eliminate the mold issue and allow the school to reopen.
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